Seating moved away from the low-backed vinyl offerings of the 1970s to some head-rested, bucket-style units that not only offered good side support but also scored in the fashion department, with a healthy dose of brown cloth livened up with splashes of racy red stripping.
Slide down into the seats and turn the ignition on. In a slightly sci-fi fashion, a warning chimes out the dash to let you know the door is still open. Crank it and it quickly fires up into a busy-sounding idle. The lack of engine vibration is noticeable and a blip of the loud pedal has the tachometer climbing quickly – Mazda did advise that although the car wants to rev it is best not to keep it over 6500rpm for extended periods and thoughtfully fitted an audible reminder that sounds when this mark is reached. With the door shut and the car rolling the cabin space is surprisingly quiet.
Maximum power was quoted at 86kW at 6000rpm and the torque figure at 153Nm at 4000rpm, which makes the way it accelerates impressive – there’s not much below 3000rpm, but once you push past that mark it pulls strongly, wheel spinning off the line and on to 60km/h in 4.5 seconds, 80 in 6.7 and 100 in 10.1.
Steering is another feather in the cap, with a well-tuned variable ratio making it easy to operate in the parking lot while at the same time not twitchy at speed. Handling, controlled by MacPherson struts up front and a live-axle with Watt’s linkage at the back, and aided by a 50:50 weight distribution thanks to the engine being behind the front axles, is out the top drawer. There’s very little body roll (but the ride’s not harsh or jittery) with the result that most people tend to drive somewhat more enthusiastically than they should. Thankfully the brakes, which are controlled by a sensitive pedal action, are well up to scratch. With all these traits, it is no wonder the RX-7 went racing.